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Merilee Bennett is a maker, artist, creator.


Let me introduce myself

Merilee Bennett

merilee bennett

My career has taken a zigzag path. I've been an exhibiting artist (I have photographs in the collection of the NGV), a film maker (my short film A Song Of Air was invited to Cannes and went on to win prizes all around the world). I've worked as a photography lecturer, a gallery assistant. I worked at the age of twenty as a topless waitress in a Brisbane strip club, (which was an eye opener and en education of a very special sort). I've run writing groups and creativity workshops. I've worked in a book shop and a real estate office, as a gardener and a cook and a script coordinator for a children's TV program. I was in a dream-work group for more than a decade, and I've participated in Women's Circles many times.

I've survived the following: being washed under a causeway in a Queensland flash flood; being attacked by a Bolivian policeman (he ended up with less tongue than he started out with); spending two weeks in a Spanish gaol for overstaying my visa (in a cell with a 14 stone gypsy girl with epilepsy, who decided to go off her medication); the death of my father when I was twenty five, which broke my heart; my daughter going to live with her dad in the US when she was fourteen, which broke my heart all over again. Oh and I've survived a few old fashioned ordinary heart breaks, betrayals, disappointments. But you know what they say - when a heart is broken it becomes more open, and grows bigger than ever.

On the other side, I have experienced the following glories: I have witnessed (and photographed) six births, watched six babies enter this beautiful world; I have been high in the Andes of Peru, watching a condor hover thirty feet above my head; and into a five thousand year old underground temple in Malta, meditating on the silent voices of an ancient matriarchal community. I've been with my mother in her last weeks and days, and held her hand as her mind made its final free-form meander through memories and hallucinations. I've been to Kakadu and Uluru, and Elcho Island, and into Arnhem Land. I've sat with my Buddhist teacher and experienced things I have no language for, but which lead me to read the poetry of Rumi and Mary Oliver and Rilke with greater joy. I've had successes and failures, and I've been in love, madly, passionately, and so, so, sweetly. Still am. (But that's another story).

So this is what I believe:

1. Creativity is what makes us human. Other animals create, but we are born with imagination, for thinking of things that don't yet exist. When we make things, we are in touch with something deep and natural in ourselves.

2. Our capacity to create is our gift and our curse. It comes with responsibility - just because we can build ever more brutal weapons doesn't mean we should. However, when human beings are safe and fed and in community with others, i.e. not entirely consumed with matters of survival, we create marvels - gardens, meals, homes, body decoration, stories, mythologies, rituals, dances, music!

3. We are story making animal.

4. The more we exercise our creative muscles, our imaginations, the clearer is our own voice and the expression of our own gifts.

5. The world as it is now, complex and fast changing, calls us to develop the inner quiet, the peace of mind and understanding of self and others that can come with creative activities. (By this, I mean everything from painting a mural to cooking a meal to having fine and wonderful conversation).

There is so much more to say about all these things, but that's enough for now. Till next time, Merilee